Bad driving is a big problem on American roads and is the main cause of the majority of road accidents. Whether it is speeding, reckless driving, driving under the influence, or even driving while fatigued, the risk of colliding with another car or person increases through bad driving. To reduce this risk there are many road laws to curtail bad driving and protect all users of the road.
In this article we look at 6 of the most important roads laws that drivers should be aware of. These laws are especially important if drivers have to navigate Interstate 15 or any other dangerous roads discussed in our prior post.
Speeding is tantamount to bad driving, and it is the leading cause of road accidents all across the U.S. In response, the federal government has mandated every state to enforce speed limits on the road. Transportation authorities have also made it illegal to use radar detectors that alert drivers to the location of speed radars. The objective of these laws is to keep drivers from speeding. The maxium speed limit in some areas here in Nevada—75 miles per hour (mph)—is one of the highest in the U.S., although the speed limits in school zones and business districts are 15 mph and 25 mph, respectively. An Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study showed that increases in speed limits over two decades have caused 33,000 fatalities, and this is reason enough for both federal and local governments to enforce the safest possible speed limits.
DUI and DWI Laws
Being intoxicated or under the influence is one of the biggest offences a driver can commit. The danger of causing a fatality is much higher, which is why the laws come with large penalties. The sanctions include hefty fines and possible prison time. The illegal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit in Nevada is 0.02% for drivers under 21 years old, 0.04% for commercial license holders, and 0.08% for everyone else. Penalties include license revocation (1st offense), jail time (2nd offense), and longer jail time (third offense).
Distracted Driving Laws
Even the best drivers become bad ones when they are unfocused, and that is why distracted driving is a leading cause of road accidents all across the U.S. Every state has laws specifically aimed to combat distracted driving. The specifics of these laws vary from state to state, according to Digest of Motor Laws with Nevada banning texting while driving and handheld cell phone use while driving. The first offense necessitates a fine of $50 dollars; the second, $100; the third and subsequent offenses; $250. These fines are doubled when the offense occurs in a work zone. Such laws are working and improving road safety. A 2014 study published in the American Journal of Public Health, “Impact of Texting Laws on Motor Vehicular Fatalities in the United States,” suggest that fatalities due to distracted driving have decreased after 31 states enacted such laws.
Laws regarding headlight use also differ from state to state. Here in Nevada, headlights are required to be on half an hour after sunset, half an hour before sunrise, and when visibility is less than 1,000 feet. Such laws may seem mundane, but they could mean the difference between a close miss and a collision. Bad driving, as mentioned earlier, manifests itself in different ways, and one of them is not paying attention to driving laws such as opening headlights when necessary.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) passed the ELD Mandate last December. This was put in place to reduce bad driving in the commercial truck industry. The mandate requires fleet operators to equip each of their trucks with an Electronic Logging Device (ELD). Verizon Connect explains that an ELD keeps the vehicles road legal through recording the time spent on the road as well as the driving habits of the drivers. One of the most common bad driving habits in the trucking industry is overdriving which causes fatigue. This can lead to an increase in mistakes made by the drivers, which in turn increases the likelihood of a fatal collision. ELDs are also used by fleet managers to monitor bad driving habits such as speeding and improper braking. Even ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft have started enforcing their own version of HoS tracking, with both platforms requiring their drivers to take six-hour breaks when they breach their driving time limit.
Good driving means keeping everyone onboard safe, and the seatbelt law is vitally important to ensure this. A passenger wearing a seatbelt reduces the risk of death by 45% and injury by 50%. As such, 49 of the 50 states have enacted some form of seatbelt law requiring drivers and front seat passengers to wear seatbelts. Even if the law doesn’t require it, backseat passengers should always wear their seatbelt too.
It is incumbent upon every driver to follow these rules and regulations to keep themselves and others safe. With crashes occurring every day on Nevada's roads, it is clear that these laws are vital to improving road safety and reducing bad driving.
Our thanks to EyesOnTheRoad_AC for contributing this post.